Day of the Dead
While the topic of death is largely avoided in the United States, Día de Los Muertos encourages the living to honor and commiserate with the dead by elaborately decorating grave sites, preparing special foods, and constructing commemorative altars in their homes designed to entice the spirits of the deceased to come back for a visit.
Westside CAN Center
Day of The Dead Tableau
Ofrenda to Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
- Broken musical instruments (guitar, trumpet, etc.)
- Three (3) articulated skeletons at least 5 feet tall
- Small sombreros
Contact Jorge Coromac – Westside CAN Center 816.842.1298 or info[@]westsidecan.org
Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, is a traditional Mexico holiday honoring the dead. It is celebrated every year around the same time as Halloween and the Christian holy days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day (November 1st and 2nd). Día de los Muertos is a time of remembering the dead and remembering them in life.
It is a tradition to dress up as ghouls, ghosts, mummies and skeletons and have festivities celebrating our ancestors.
In the homes, families arrange ofrenda's or "altars" with flowers, bread, fruit and candy. Pictures of the deceased family members are added. In the late afternoon special all night burning candles are lit - it is time to remember the departed - the old ones, their parents and grandparents.
Traditionally, on the following day, families travel to the cemetery with hoes, picks and shovels, along with flowers, candles, blankets, and picnic baskets. They clean the graves of their loved ones, weeding and raking. Crypts are scrubbed and swept. Colorful flowers, bread, fruit and candles are placed on the graves. Some families spend the entire night in the cemeteries
Skeletons and skulls are found everywhere. Chocolate skulls, marzipan coffins, and white chocolate skeletons. Special loaves of bread are baked, called pan de muertos, and decorated with bones.
Handmade skeleton figurines, called calacas, are especially popular. Calacas usually show an active and joyful afterlife. Figures of musicians, generals on horseback, even skeletal brides, in their white bridal gowns marching down the aisles with their boney grooms.
The celebration of Día de los Muertos, like the customs of Halloween, evolved with the influences of the Celtics, the Romans, and the Christian holy days of All Saints Day and All Souls Day. But with added influences from the Aztec people of Mexico.
The Aztecs believed in an afterlife where the spirits of their dead would return as hummingbirds and butterflies. Even images carved in the ancient Aztec monuments show this belief - the linking the spirits of the dead and the Monarch butterfly.